Today is a great day to celebrate the happy birthday anniversary of a Michigan great named Paul Goebel. Paul Gordon Goebel was born on this day in 1901 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He came to Ann Arbor after a successful high school career in Grand Rapids. He was an outstanding student and athlete in his hometown. Goebel chose to continue his education and his football at The University of Michigan.
Paul Goebel played on the freshman team in 1919 and worked hard to get his chance on the varsity squad in 1920. Apparently, Paul learned how to play football the way Fieldling Yost liked. He started seven games at right end in 1920 and earn his first varsity letter. Michigan finished the 1920 season with a record of 5 wins and 2 losses. They went 2-2-0 in the conference with was only good enough for sixth place. Definitely not up to Yost’s expectations, but better than the losing season of 1919 (3-4-0)
Goebel returned in 1921 to improve on his play and hopefully to help the Wolverines do the same! He started seven more games in his Junior year and earned his second letter on a team that continued to improve. In fact, Paul played so well that he earned All-American honors. The Wolverines ended the season with a final record of 5-1-1. They finished with a conference record of 2-1-1 and moved up to fifth place. Better, but not good enough for Fielding Yost!
Senior Paul Goebel returned to play end for one more season under the legendary Fielding Yost. He would, however, have another title. Paul was named captain of the 1922 Michigan Football team. It is a huge honor to be named a Michigan captain and Paul Goebel took the responsibility very seriously. Despite some chronic knee problems, he did his best to lead the Wolverines on the field and in the locker room. Goebel actually played the season with a knee brace and it helped him stay on the field. He started five games at right end and earned his third varsity letter. More importantly, he led Michigan to the conference championship when the Wolverines finished the Big Ten season with a perfect record of 4-0-0. The only blemish on the 1922 season was a tie (0-0) against Vanderbilt. Michigan ended the season with a final record of 6-0-1.
Paul Goebel had an outstanding football career at Michigan. Here are some interesting firsts that connect Paul Goebel and Wolverine Football:
· Goebel played in the first game ever against Tulane in Ann Arbor on October 30, 1920. Michigan won by the score of 21-0.
· Paul Goebel played in the first ever Homecoming game against Ohio State in 1921. Maize and Blue fans and alumni went home with a frown after a 0-14 defeat at the hands of the Buckeyes!
· Goebel played in the first ever tie game against Wisconsin (7-7) on November 12, 1921.
· Paul Goebel played in the first, and only, tie game against Vanderbilt (0-0) in 1922.
· Goebel played on the 1922 conference champions and helped keep Michigan’s record of at least one championship in every decade of Western Conference/Big Ten play. (Michigan still is the only school to do this, but needs to win one by 2019 to keep the record intact. No pressure Coach Harbaugh!)
· Paul Goebel was the first “receiver” to wear #1 on his jersey. He wore #6 for the 1920 and 1921 seasons because upper classmen Angus Goetz (1919 and 1920) and Bob Dunne (1921) also favored that number.
· Goebel was also the first UM captain to become a mayor (Grand Rapids, MI) and a U of M Regent.
So, on the 117th anniversary of his birth, let us remember another True/Blue Michigan Man. Paul Goebel played a lot of good football for Michigan. He lettered on three Fielding Yost teams and finished his career as a champion! He enjoyed a very successful life after his playing days and served his hometown and his alma mater very well for his entire adult life! Take a moment today, to honor his memory and celebrate his accomplishments. Thank you, Paul Goebel for your contributions to the history of Michigan football. Paul Goebel died on January 26, 1988 at the age of eighty-six. May he always rest in peace. Go Blue!